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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

ED Proposes Changes to Rules for New Gainful Employment Programs

October 10, 2011

The Department of Education plans to modify regulations that require institutions to receive approval for new programs that provide training leading to gainful employment in a recognized occupation. In the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published in the September 27 Federal Register, ED explains how it intends to refine the regulations issued in October 2010 (which took effect on July 1, 2011). Those rules, which ED has referred to as "interim requirements," require institutions to submit information on all new gainful employment programs to ED for approval in order for the programs to be eligible for Title IV funds.

The proposed regulations would ease the burden on institutions by limiting such applications to "programs that are (1) the same as, or substantially similar to, failing programs that the institution voluntarily discontinued or programs that became ineligible under the debt measures for gainful employment programs, and (2) programs that are substantially similar to failing programs."

The NPRM states that a program is substantially similar "if it has the same credential level and the same first four digits of the CIP [Classification of Instructional Program] code as that of a failing program, a failing program the institution voluntarily discontinued, or an ineligible program."

The proposed rules do not change the July 1, 2013, effective date for reporting new gainful employment programs, the information institutions are required to submit, or the methods ED uses to evaluate new programs.

Because this NPRM arose from previous negotiated rulemaking sessions, proposed rules, and thousands of comment letters received in response to a July 26, 2010 NPRM, the department determined that a new negotiated rulemaking process was not required for these proposed changes to the gainful employment regulations. Comments are due to ED by November 14, 2011.


Bryan Dickson
Senior Policy Analyst